When deciding whether to buy a product, we ponder the color, number of uses, but most importantly, the brand. Speaking from experience of an aspiring business major and shopping fanatic, whether we like to realize it or not, the brand plays a major role in our purchase- from trivial matters like fitting in to conscious consumerism, it ultimately comes down to the big question of do we like this brand? With the rise of conscious consumerism, consumers have become more aware of climate change and the impact their purchases have on the environment and society. Most common packaging is made of plastic, a non-biodegradable material which means every piece of plastic produced will always remain on our planet. Plastic is continuously dumped into oceans and consumed by marine animals. Packaging waste pollutes our earth and is another form of guilt some customers experience. Consumers want to feel good about their purchase and are more likely to purchase from the brand again if they show that they care about the environment which can be accomplished by having environmentally friendly packaging.

Sustainable packaging also cuts down costs for the brand. Using biodegradable material will reduce the amount of total waste and lower labor costs by allowing the materials to be circled back into the system to be reused. Dumping waste into landfills is also costly with certain waste management systems charging by the size or weight. By reducing the amount of waste produced, companies will also reduce the amount of waste dumped into landfills therefore cutting disposal costs.

By taking steps towards reducing their carbon footprint, it shows that these companies are a more unique chain. Having sustainable packaging reverberates that the company is responsible and cares about the planet. Consumers will gravitate more towards these positive companies and lead to advocators for the company.

As a society, we typically like conformity. It is subconscious normative behavior to look to others for information to fit in. If we see others buy from a particular brand, we are more likely to purchase from that brand as well. For example, if you walked into my middle school, you would see almost everyone wearing Under Armour. It was a big reason as to why I felt inclined to wear Under Armour as well. We look to others for information to make decisions. We listen to our friends and colleagues because we trust them and believe what they have to say. So all it takes is one customer to rave to their friend about their most recent purchase from a brand that made them feel potent about their effect on the environment. The friend will be more likely to buy from that company as well after hearing positive responses about the brand from a trusted source. Then the friend will share this information to their social network and the influence will spread like wildfire. This simple conversation will result in more referred customers and a broader audience.

People have seen viral pictures of precious animals caught in packaging waste floating in the ocean. It breaks our heart and makes us want to make a change. After seeing the poignant pictures, we are more inclined to reduce the amount of waste we are emitting into the environment. Business models aside, using environmentally friendly packaging reduces our carbon footprint and is one step towards a greener planet. The environment plays an important role in healthy living and our mere existence. There is no escape if our planet deteriorates so we must do our part in conserving it for our future generations. If a company wants to appeal to a growing demographic of conscious consumers, they should start with using eco-friendly packaging. Something as simple as packaging material speaks volumes about the company and their values and encourages others to conserve our beautiful planet.

Essay by: Vivien Lau
University of Maryland

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